Category Archives: Race Reports

Navy Tridents Sprint Tri

First triathlon of the year for many in NS, is the Tridents Tri Club race at the Shearwater base in Dartmouth.

It’s a pool swim based on self-seeded time estimate for 750m, with 12 racers in the pool swimming 2 per lane. The bike course goes up onto a runway, three laps around cones at each end and back. The run follows a crusher dust trail out and back.

I did this race in 2012, skipped it last year in favour of long training miles for ironman. In 2012, I swam pathetically, had a decent a bike and a reasonable run for 11th place. That’s a common story for me and triathlon, but my swimming showed signs of improvement last year. On the flip side, I’ve done next to no swimming over the winter, and for whatever reason, I don’t seem to have the same bike speed in early season training I’ve had the past couple of years. For good or ill though, this race is a good indicator of where your tri fitness is at…

I estimated a 15:xx swim, though expected to go a bit faster, but determined to pace it better than I did last time (I went out way too hard!), so that gave me a 12:30pm wave start time – a leisurely start to the day! Got to the race in plenty of time, watched some earlier heats, got registered and set up in transition. So far, so good.

As soon as the race started, I regretted my decision to where my tri vest in the swim. It felt like I was dragging a sail behind me. My club top is getting a bit worn and saggy and was definitely catching water. Hmm… my lane mate eventually pulled a little ahead, but I concentrated on pacing evenly and not pushing too hard. When I finally climbed out, I was disappointed to see there were only 3 or 4 people left in the pool, and my time was about exactly as estimated, not under. Hmm…

Onto the bike, and I blew past many of the wave on the first hill out of transition. I was trying to go hard; with that, and confusing cones and marshals, I managed to go off course a couple of times, lost a bit of time. Once on the runway, the wind was picking up, but I felt great, blasting down one way and riding strong and aero up the other. On the way back I was by myself with noone else from my wave, or previous waves in sight. Reasonable transition and out on the run course. A cool breeze kept the full sun from being unbearably hot, perfect conditions really, and I felt ok, working hard but under control.

I was quite happy the way the race went… until I saw the final results :-( On the positive side, I was a couple of minutes quicker than in 2012, was 12th out of 188, and actually enjoyed the race. On the negative, I was 84th in the swim (!!), was not dominating on the bike at all (10th and relatively slow avg), and only 6th in my AG.

Let’s dissect…
SWIM: no winter swimming – won’t do that again – thankfully the pool is now open in Bridgewater. I need to swim regularly year-round, not a lot, but regularly.
BIKE: wtf. I need to put some serious miles in, and quickly, if my HIM races are going to amount to anything this year. Is it even worth me signing up for the ITT Champs in 3 weeks? Going to get my ass kicked.
RUN: can’t complain too much, it was adequate; it’s just that everyone else seems to be upping their game more. Sigh.

Binned the idea of racing for the next 3 weekends, I need the bike training time. I need a better focus. I’ve been slacking, partly from feeling tired and drained a lot, but still… I’m going to have to find the added spark. I have 5 weeks to Challenge St. Andrews, 9 weeks to Bridgetown Long Course, and 12 weeks to the Yarmouth marathon. I was starting to feel a bit of a return to form, so don’t despair or try to do too much and knock myself in a hole, just add some focus and get serious about training again

PB and Demoralisation in One Go

The 2014 season started in earnest, kind of suddenly! One minute it was all ice and snow and basement cycling, next it was time for lung-busting, running scared stuff.

First up was the new race in Liverpool, It’s a Shore Thing half marathon on May 3. I knew that I wasn’t going to set the world on fire. It’s a lovely scenic course, but challenging… not especially hilly, just… well, not an easy route. Talk about being lucky with the weather though! Race day was sunny and warm, just perfect running weather really. The race entries had capped out over the 5k, 10k and half distances, though there weren’t very many takers for the 21.1km race.

As soon as the gun went, one young lad, Simeon Fancy from Milton set off into the distance. He is only 17, but fast over 5k. This was his first HM, and he only entered on a whim. The small pack of us behind were predicting that he would blow, having gone out too hard… more on that in a minute.

The coastline along Beach Meadows towards Eagle Head is fantastic, a bit of broken pavement and a strong camber detracted a little from taking in the view, but I was running steadily, and dropped my companions around the 8km mark. Simeon nowhere in sight…

Around 10km, he came back into view having made a turnaround at the 12km point – still looking strong, and obviously not going to crash and burn! Hmm. Steady running, keep Victor back in third.

That’s the story of that one. Second place and first AG, but a long way off my best and roundly trounced by a 17 yo running 1:19 – yikes.

The following weekend, after a full training week, was the Osprey 5k in Riverport. Again, a bit of an unknown as I haven’t managed as consistent a running training regime as the last couple of years. Part of the reason for that were those achilles tendon issues that have plagued me for the past 10 months. Well, curiously, after the previous weekend race and hard brick on Sunday, I woke up to no pain on Monday – none, not a twinge – go figure.

Good turnout for the 5k, it’s a popular race and many of the South Shore  usual suspects were there, including quite a few fellow BTCers. Race morning was a bit breezy and cool and when we set off there was a lot of jockeying for position in the best draft! Ran 1km in 3:38, oh oh too fast, and immediately started to struggle. There was a seemingly huge crowd in front of me still, and I hung on until 4km with little change in placing. The last kilometre was tough though – lack of race fitness and fast running taking its toll. I lost 5 places in that last bit to run in 16th and only 5th AG – boo! However, I also managed a 5k PB in 19:37 – hurrah!

So, should I be happy with the PB, or dismayed that there are so many folk locally who make that seem very pedestrian! How on earth do I make the leap from there to 18:xx, especially whilst triathlon training for distance – I think it is possible, just not sure how.

Moose Run 25k 2014

Another early start to drive the 2 hours and a bit to Eastern Passage for the annual pilgramage to the Moose Run 25km.

This is not a race, times and placings are recorded but there are no prizes for winners. Many folks aiming for Boston, or another spring marathon, use it as a tune-up run, and others as a useful benchmark to see where you are at after the winter.

Apart from the strong winds, and a blizzard, it wasn’t too too cold and finished in sunshine, but the hills are killers on this route and you have to work bloody hard. I wasn’t feeling 100% for racing, but set off ok, keeping a steady but solid pace, and went through the turnaround in 59:xx, which is deceptive as there is a dogs-leg in the outbound. I increasingly struggled to keep the pace going. My ankles weren’t particularly sore, but the hip flexors on the left side were, and the ball of my right foot became very sore. I don’t think it’s a varucca but that’s what it feels like, the Mizuno shoes seem to exacerbate the problem. Need another shoe change :-(

Anyway, I struggling painfully in, rallying a little in the final mile, and eventually finished 11 seconds faster than last year. I *think* I was 21st which would be the same placing as last year too, but some of those in front may have been relay teams, impossible to tell. 205 registered runners. Job done, I have an idea of what needs attention – longer runs, and longer tempo work basically.

So, I signed up for Challenge St. Andrews, along with Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O’Donnell! It’s shaping up to be an awesome race. Managed to get back swimming x 1 this past couple of weeks, swimming around 1:45 / 100m which isn’t too bad.

Need to shed a few pounds, maybe 2 kilos and keep the strength work going, otherwise I’m doing ok.

Riverport Duathlon

This is our club race, and as one of the last multisport races of the season it’s always a popular one. The Bridgewater Triathlon Club have to cap entries, and this year the limit was reached a few hours after opening up.

I was filled with uncertainty about competing, as I had been battling various injuries, including the calf pull from the Rum Runner’s Relay a couple of weeks before.

The pace on the first run was fairly quick, and as expected somewhere around 2.5km, my right calf pulled. I quickly lost places and contemplated pulling out of the race. I decided to get the bike ride done as it probably wouldn’t hurt it more, but I was a long way of the front by now. I actually rode the third fastest split of the day and brought myself back up to 5th place or so, but hopping off the bike, my calf once again complained. I struggled through the second run and lost another couple of places. Bah.

Despite the pain, the first run pace was actually 3:55/km! The bike 35.6km/h and the second run 4:31/km.

Rum Runner’s Relay

Holy crap! Where did that come from!

What a stunning day for this fantastic race though. Teams of 10 run from the outskirts of Halifax to Lunenburg. Each of the 10 legs vary in distance, though not so much in difficulty.

This year I ran for one of the local South Shore teams, competing in leg 3. This leg is fairly flat and 11.2k in distance. Somehow, all injuries notwithstanding, I ran 44:19 giving me an average pace of 3:58min/km – happy with that. I was battling a calf pull from halfway, which meant I had to run at a pace just under that which was going to cause it to give way!

Bert Corkum 5 Mile

It was with some trepidation that I followed through with my plan to run this race. Right up until warmup, I was swithering whether it was a good idea. Was the uncertainty physical, or mental?

Probably a bit of both. This would be my first race since Epic, and only my third race this year, bizarrely enough. I’ve been injured and still not 100% recovered if the tender spot on my left achilles tendon is anything to go by. I’ve been building the run miles back up and doing so at the expense of any faster paced running, this had been the 5 week in a row of increasing mileage and if I managed to complete the race and the long run on Sunday, this week would top 60km. So, faintly injured, mileage weary and by no means race fit, it was not going to be my finest hour. First, I put on my Newton race shoes, half changed them, went back and then finally decided to run in Asics trainers, better safe than sorry. That’s the physical excuses out of the way then. Mentally… I’m just not good at doing stuff if I know I’m not going to be able to do as well as I, or others, expect me to. It’s wrong, and not an aspect of myself that I’m happy with. Anyway, I did it…

I set off conservatively, wanting to try my achilles out, and aware that the first km is a slight incline that you can blow yourself to pieces on. Still made up a whole load of places on others who weren’t aware of that, or rather, were becoming aware of it quite quickly. After  2km or so, I found myself running with Brad and we kept a steady pace for the next few km, gradually reeling in a young lad ahead. Further ahead, Jamie was running strongly with an out-of-towner and travelling quicker than we were, we decided that we were unlikely to catch them. Further still, and out of sight since 1km, was Colin! Pretty much as we caught the youngster, footsteps approached from behind as Terry, a speedy senior masters runner, caught us up and this group of four headed for the first of two sharp climbs at 6km. The first is short and steep and reminds you of the joy of hill running, after which there is a long sweeping descent back down to the seashore, then the second is less steep, with a ramp halfway up. At the ramp, I decided to test out the group and took off up the second climb, leaving the others behind. Over the top, the flaw in my plan became apparent – I cannae run downhill! Terry came flying past and I tried to hold him, but couldn’t. I kept as much pace going as I could in the last km, but turning into the parking lot for the finish, the young lad came past me too and I let him go. So, dropped to 6th place and 1:16 slower than last year where I finished in third.

I’m happy enough with that though, to be honest. I raced, broke the duck, ran better than I thought I might and didn’t get injured – good enough. If it was the start of the season, I would be feeling confident that I could add in a bit of speed and be faster than last year. Unfortunately, it’s the end of the season! However, it’s a good place to be building mileage from and making plans for 2014.

I still have half a notion to run a marathon this fall, though there isn’t much preparation time left. Race time predictor has me down for a 3:18 based on that 8km race, and I’m running my longer runs strongly. Will see how it goes over the next few weeks.

June 30, 2013 – Iron Dartmouth – Race Report

Well, look ‘ee here… 30 weeks of training and we made it – race day. Here’s how it panned out; where we see what all the hopes and fears, early mornings and late nights, dedication and bloody single-mindedness amount too…

There’s just so much that can go wrong racing long distance triathlon. Getting to the start line un-injured is hard enough, then making sure you have equipment and nutrition plan dialed in and everything organised in the right bags in the right place, including contingencies and adaptations according to what might happen in the race, the looming threat of imminent mechanical, physiological and/or psychological breakdown. Needless to say, I didn’t really sleep well again…

I watched the clock changing all through the night and at 4:30 or so, decided I might as well just get up and start getting ready. Rather than bothering the other guests in the B&B, I had packed breakfast, such as it was, in the car, so stood and ate a bagel with some cottage cheese and two chocolate flavoured meal replacement drinks – good for 1000kCal or so. That seemed to work ok, though, really, a nice cup of tea and some proper food would have been preferable.

Got to the race site and checked bike and bags in, then went through body marking and changed into race kit – good timing with not too much hanging around, but not rushed either. Met up with the fab Bridgewater Triathlon Club crew. We had 5 individual racers, plus a team entered. At around 6:20am I said my fond farewells, drank a bottle of Gatorade and went through to the swim start area – no coming back now.

After a quick warm-up, we were counted back into the water and with a strong breeze blowing and squally rain, we were off! Despite there only being 120 or so swimmers, it took a while for things to thin out, but by the turn at ~1000m, I was swimming with the same group who were going about my pace. In particular was one female (different coloured swim hat) who I kept swapping draft off and we stayed stroke for stroke the whole way – turns out this was Dot Martin, half (with John) of a great couple from Vermont we had met and shared a meal with the night before. The backside kilometre was quite choppy with the wind kicking up the waves – it had also blown the warm water down to one end of the lake with the colder water coming up to replace it. Still, I was fairly comfortable and I was almost sad for the swim to be coming to an end – I could have swum all day! No problem sighting the buoys, so much open water practice, plus you could actually follow the wire strung under the water to which the markers were affixed. Out and helped off with my wetsuit by the jolly ‘strippers’ – wayhey, flying brine! I checked my watch: 1:07:12 – wow, happy with that – great start to the day.

I got through T1 without mishap in a reasonable 4:07, clambered aboard and off for the long ride. Now. On a nice day, this is probably a pleasant scenic bike, but this really wasn’t a nice day – felt like I was racing in Scotland, except a tad warmer. Overall, though, not a bad route, 180km as one out and back. There were no great hills to speak of, hardly needed to get out of the saddle, one rough section of road for a few km otherwise good surface, well-signed and marshalled with aid stations every 20-30km. The time went by quickly; battered by the wind and rain, I had been picking off riders, making up ground, and coming to the turnaround I was able to count the riders in front and reckoned to be around 10th position, with an unknown number of those being team, aqua and epic distance riders. The bike and wheels behaved perfectly, I had worried about using the disc rear and 60mm front Flo wheels in strong winds, but I had no issues with control at all. Cool moment, as I came past the end of the airport runway, a plane was coming in to land right over me. I felt comfortable the whole way, though the last 25km I maybe pushed a bit hard, into a strong headwind on rolling roads. Off in 5:28:19 – right on target. Proved to be the 2nd fastest bike split amongst iron racers and 6th fastest overall, though Sam Gyde’s 4:44 made everything else laughable, but then he has won his age group in the world championships the last two years!
Nutrition: 5 Clif bars and 5 bottles of Gatorade.

Zipped through T2 in a speedy 1:57! As soon as I started the run, I knew it was going to be a slog. Whether the last three weeks of no running had more impact than I thought, or whether I pushed the bike too hard, I don’t know, but I started off slow, and got slower. The first lap, I ran 10.55km in under an hour – good enough, and I didn’t lose too much more on the second lap, but the third lap was a real struggle mentally and physically, I lost 16min and my hope of my goal time. The final lap was slightly better, I revised my goals and was happy in myself. Although I had no clear idea of where I was overall, I knew I was ahead of some of my key age-groupers. Thankfully, I had no major injury upset, though my right achilles got sore at one point – generally you are in a fair degree of pain by this point. There are some significant uphill sections on this run, and I had to walk them on the last half. Otherwise, I managed to keep the slow plod going.
Nutrition: Gu gel roughly every half hour at water stations 1 and 3. Gatorade and water at stations 2, 4 and 5. Some cola on the final lap.

The final few kilometres are a joy though, you know you’re going to make it and you can relax a bit. Coming in to the last 500m is one of the most epic experiences you can have, but the best part was having Jane there at the end to share it with – she made a lot of this possible, picking up the slack from the the time I spend training, and supporting me through the rough spots. Thank you.

So, what did all that training time amount to? Apart from a very gammy toe and the inability to tackle stairs unassisted? Overall time was 11:08:18, good enough in the small field for 1st in my 45-49 age group, and 4th overall! So, I didn’t hit all my goals, but hey! I’m plenty pleased with that…:-)

Photo: Liane Clarkson

More than that though, and one of the reasons ironman (with a small ‘i’) is so popular is because it is so life-affirming. I’m 46 bloody years old… and in the best shape of my life. I might have failed in some areas of my life, but in this; when I take control over controllable things, make a plan, read my body’s reactions and learn, face up to my fears and worries, laugh at the pain –  *and overcome it all* – that, my friends, is what it’s all about, really what it is all about.

I’ll do a more in-depth think-through of where things went right and wrong in this week’s review – and also consider what to do with this blog! Thanks for listening.

March 17, 2013

Race Report – Moose Run 25k

Brad and I set off around 6:45am for the 2+ hour drive to Eastern Passage. A long way to go for a ‘C’ race, I suppose, but this is a good early season marker race to measure yourself by. It’s also free… well, they ask for donations, so for $10 I got a race shirt, a $20 voucher for Aerobics First in Halifax, a supported long run, and food at the end. That must make it one of the best value outings of the year, if you ignore the cost of gas…

It’s also generally a quality field, many of the NS Boston-bound use this as a tune-up, so it is one to rid yourself of those delusions of grandeur that can occur if you only race small local races!

I’ve been training through this, and with it being the first race of the season, I did not feel at my best. My race shoes from last season, ASICS Sky Speed, were relegated to gym shoes, so I ran in my 2170’s, which are also feeling worn out. Especially after the long drive, I didn’t feel like I was running smoothly or lightly.

A beautiful sunny day though, not as windy as last year, cold enough for hat, gloves, base layer and long sleeve top, tights. Setting off, there was one guy off the front, another small group of three or four, then a bigger group of 20 or so, and me trying to decide whether to race or run conservatively. This was my longest run for a while, and I kind of dangled off the back for a while. The first 5k were good though, steady pace and I picked off a couple of over-keen starters and got passed by a couple of tardy starters – usual story. Everything settled down and started to string out. Water stop around 5k, and I realised that I had forgotten to stick a gel in my glove like I meant to – bugger. Water stop around 10k and I was starting to have to work a bit harder. It’s a hilly course, nothing major, but rolling most definitely! The next pull to the turnaround is hard work, but once around there’s a downhill section and because of the early dogleg, it’s actually more than halfway. I made the turn around the hour mark and had maintained my position, but there were a few folk on my tail.

Heading back into the slight breeze didn’t help the hills any, and I had to concentrate to hold pace. A couple of runners came breezing past, obviously looking to strongly negative split the training run, but we were also was catching another couple who were feeling the pace.

Through the water stop with less than 5k to go, I was feeling the lack of calories and cursing forgetting the gel, but I was also determined not to slow down too much. I was looking out for the first turn which signifies 1 mile to go, and knew that I could keep pushing for another few minutes. I was glad to see the finish line though! They don’t really do placings, or results, so I think my 1:55:47 was good only for 25th or so. I ran 1:53 last year, so I’m in the same ballpark. Good enough. I need new shoes.

We finished the trip to town with a visit to the Canada Games Centre for a quick swim and hot tub warm down, and wound our weary way home. Job done.